Thursday, November 26, 2009

X-Men Forever #12 - Marvel

Man, it took me a long time to get through that week. 33 books last week, altogether. That's alot, when I'm usually around 20 to 24. But these next couple of weeks are pretty slim, so . . I should be getting back on track soon. Anyways, on with this book . . last issue we saw that someone showed up and took Illyana. She was on her way home from school and someone coaxed her into a car. It's not hard to imagine why they want her . . they obviously know that she's Magik. Luckily though, Remy, Ro and Kitty have all come to Russia to see how Peter is doing. When he didn't show up for Logan's funeral, they were concerned. But he's been busy as a member of the Winter Guard, and because of his romance with the Black Widow. When they took her they also attacked and killed the Winter Guard that was set up to protect Peter's parents. Anyways, after a while they get a bead on her location . . obviously a trap. But what are they supposed to do? She at the Karinovski Industrial facility. It's owned by Bohdan Shkuro, head of the Yaroslov cossacks . . a gang, or mob family if you will. When they arrive they're greeted by not only the Cossack, but also his apprentice . . Black Magik. It appears that Illyana has been changed from a 8 year old into a teenager. And the Cossack wants to use her against the X-Men. Meanwhile, back home . . Jean is still trying to figure out what to do about her conflicting emotions and feelings for both Scott and Logan. Charles is working with Moira on trying to find an answer to what's burning out his mutants. Sabretooth is up to his normal shenanigans. And Rogue has made a decision that she's going to stay and fight. She was thinking about leaving before, but then when Sabretooth showed up . . she was pretty certain of it. Now after talking to Remy, and thinking about what Logan would want . . she's decided to stick it out. I'm glad that Chris Claremont is on this book. I really like the feel that he gives this team. They can say that other writers can keep up with him, or handle the team just as well. But in my book . . nobody gives them the same feel as Chris does. Also Tom Grummett is back on pencils for this story-arc. Working with Chris, he also gives this book a good look. I enjoy Tom's work and I really like his interpretation of these characters. I don't know how long they're planning on keeping this title going, but . . I can see it sticking around for quite a while.

Secret Warriors #10 - Marvel

This entire issue explored the relationship between Ares and his son Alexander. Or as he's sometimes called . . Phobos, God of Fear. Part of the reason that Alex took up with Nick Fury is because his father always preached to him about honor. Alex wanted to be a hero. He asked his dad one day why they fought. 'Why? Hrmmph. You need some reason greater than victory. Than women or good food or the good sleep of the victorious? It is an honor Alexander. Honor above everything.' Which was fine when he said it. But then? Then he sees his father standing beside Norman Osborne pretending to be the Avengers. That was about the same time that Nick recruited him. But now he is to be judged . . by the council elite of Earth's pantheons . . Balder, Quetzalcoatl and Hera. He passes judgement and Hera proclaims him the God of Fear. But there's still one more thing. 'You were born a mortal boy, son of a mortal woman. And while you are not a demigod you will not achieve your full godhead until one final thing happens.' That's when Ares tells him . . 'You must die, son. So that you may one day be reborn.' Ok! That's quite a lot for a little kid to think about. But . . in order to gain his godhead . . I don't think he has a choice. I wonder what Nick is going to say about all of this. I like this book. I picked it up on a whim, and . . I haven't been let down yet. I love these schemes and plots upon subplots . . the machinations of god and men. Plus . . Nick is a great character. Jonathan Hickman is doing a great job with the story here. And Alessandro Vitti has really given this book his own feel. I'm just wondering if we're going to get a spin-off of this . . the Howling Commandos. I mean, Dum Dum has assembled as many ex-SHIELD agents as he can find under their banner. So now, Nick is technically leading 2 groups. How long is he going to keep that up? And when are we finally going to have the face off between him and Norman. You know it's comin'. Anyways, nice cover by Jim Cheung.

HULK #17 - Marvel

I like this book. I really do. I think Jeph Loeb is a fantastic writer, and I really love Ian Churchill's work. But the frustrating thing about this book is . . here we are 17 issues into it, and . . we still don't know who the Red Hulk is. We've been able to cancel out a lot of our suspicions. But the only real hints we get are vague . . to say the least. And now we have another mystery . . who is the Red She-Hulk? Anyways, last issue, and this one, we find out that Doc Samson, who works for the same people that the Red-Hulk does has double-crossed them . . and him. We don't really know why. The only thing I can think is that he also doesn't know the Red Hulk's secret. Maybe he thought that if he got to Domino first that he'd be able to drag it out of her. The Red Hulk thinks that he's doing it at their request because they want to show him that they can lead him around by the nose. Yes he's very powerful, but . . they still control him. And . . I think they want to show him that he's expendable. The whole issue the Red Hulk is comparing what he's been going through to that of what Bruce went through when the world first found out that he was the Hulk. The loneliness, the isolation . . I think it's all starting to get to him. This issue started out with Thundra being the only one on his side . . truly there to help him. However, after a little speech by Elektra at the end of the book . . the Red Hulk is going to make good on his promises to the Crimson Dynamo, Deadpool and the Punisher. 'Whatever else you think of your "team", you need all the friends you can get. Or at least less enemies to be gumming up your plans. For now, I'll take an IOU. Having "the strongest there is" on my side someday . . is worth more than what you owe me.' And at the end he makes a decision. 'Everything I've worked for since Banner's Hulk declared war on the world will have to be brought down. I'm going to have to forge an alliance with the last person anyone will expect . . since I can't do it alone.' I think he's going to team up with . . the Hulk. Anyways, I think it was a good book. It brought a lot to light. Not enough to figure out the 'secret', but . . it gave us an insight into the character of the person behind the Red Hulk. That's better than nothing . . I guess.

Fantastic Four #573 - Marvel

Okay, Jonathan Hickman presented some fantastic ideas here . . pun intended. Basically, since the last time the Fantastic Four saw Nu-World, their sun collapsed in upon itself creating a black-hole. Nu-World is on the edge of the event horizon of that black-hole, so . . time travels faster than normal for them. Even though it's only been a couple of weeks since they were last here . . it's been 8 years for the people of Nu-World. In that time Lightwave and Ultron have taken over as the world leaders. And they can't use the portal to get back to Earth because it was damaged when they first got here. Luckily . . the kids stowed away on Ben and Johnny's little vacation here, so . . Valeria is along for the ride. And as she tells Ted Castle, the architect and constructor of Nu-World . . 'Promise me you won't tell anyone, but I'm already smarter than my dad.' So . . long story short . . Ted has gotten old . . Alyssa is reduced to a brain living in a robot who is killed by Psionics, Johnny's old girlfriend who is now working for the bad-guys, when they come to break out Ben who was captured when they first got here. And Valeria helps Ted build a new portal for them all to get back to Earth. Everyone else though has decided to stay because they want to go down with the ship . . I guess. The other great idea Jonathan had with this story is to wrap it all up in one issue. I could see this one being dragged across 3 or 4 issues, but . . most of it would've been filler. I mean, sure the people of Nu-World are gonna come back to be a thorn in their side . . sooner or later. But . . we don't have to get into all of that right now. That'll just be a plot thread hanging there for later on. So overall . . I'm very pleased with Jonathan's work on this issue. It was exciting, original and precise. Thank you very much. Neil Edwards does the pencils on this issue. Dale needed an issue off? Already? He did 24 issues of JSA without missing an issue. What's up? Anyways, I liked the book. It was . . . wait for it . . . Fantastic!! You knew that was coming. Right?

the Invincible Iron Man #20 - Marvel

Well . . Tony Stark / Iron Man has fallen into the pit. He's finally reached the bottom and has nowhere to go . . but up. The question is . . he's counting on those around him to bring him back . . do they even want to? He is, when it comes down to it, a cold heartless bastard afterall. He's used and abused anyone who has ever known or worked for him. And . . he's run a multi-national conglomerate that has supplied weapons to every side of every war for the past 50 years. Is that someone they should bring back into the world? And as Pepper asks, 'I don't . . I don't . . I don't understand why . . after so many people got hurt . . after everybody died at Stamford, and Stane and the Invasion and . . and . . and after Steve and Bill and . . and after Happy all died . . why is it Tony that gets to come back? Why is it that Tony Stark is the one that gets everything back again?' This story has 2 fronts. In the hospital Bucky, Blake, Pepper and Maria are all trying to decide if they should even help Tony return. He's left instructions on how the MK 1616 is supposed to work . . how they can use it to basically reboot him. Meanwhile, in his own head, Tony is trying to figure out his own way of coming back. He doesn't know that . . he thinks he's just reliving a moment over and over again. But . . he's trying to dig his way through psychic barriers . . literally . . and metaphorically. Meanwhile, Norman Osborn has rescinded his bounty on Tony Stark. He's more than happy that he's a vegetable now, and would rather see him prolongedly suffer than to end it quickly for him. At least that's what he's telling everyone. But . . somehow Emma is involved. And we don't know what that's all about yet. However, Madame Masque knows that something is wrong and has asked the Ghost to help her kill Tony. Norman's orders be damned. In the back of the book we get a synopsis of Tony's activities for the last few years. Kind of like the Moon Knight Saga book that came out between titles . . to catch the reader up. Except . . this one is contained within the book. It was a was for them to charge $3.99 for this book. Thanks for that. Anyways, if you're not a follower of Iron Man, this'll bring you right up to date. They even have a page at the end for suggested chronology of reading. You know . . if you wanted to catch up . . or dig your heals in. I think that's great, but I don't like being charged extra for the book. Anyways, despite that little headache . . I think Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca are doing a fantastic job here. Obviously Tony will be back, but . . I think it's going to be one hell of a road getting him there. I can't wait to see what Matt has in store for us.

the Amazing Spider-man #613 - Marvel

You all know I'm a huge Spider-man fan. I love this book. But . . I gotta say . . so far, I'm not thrilled with Mark Waid's storyline here. Yes it's not what I expected . . Gauntlet to me presents the image of Kraven's family throwing all these villains at Spider-man that they've been culling to their side. But, so far all we've seen it Electro's attempt at stabilizing his powers. And, somewhere along the line, he found out that anybody can appease the masses by voicing their concerns and frustrations. All he really does is give a voice to how they feel about the economy, big business and the governments attempt at fixing the political and social climate by throwing money at it. All of the sudden . . he's the voice of the people. Previous transgressions be damned. If they only knew that he was really doing was counting on their 'power in numbers' to intimidate a certain newspaper owner into paying him not to attack his business. Basically, he's running a protection racket with the 'normal Joes' of NYC as his army . . his threat. And the only reason he's doing that is to garner the money to pay the Thinker to do something about his fluctuating powers. Of course he gets it . . the Thinker starts working on him, and . . right in the middle in comes Spider-man to throw a wrench in the mix. Unfortunately his involvement comes at the point where he ends up giving Max Dillon an unlimited surge . . by accident. Now he wants to use the power of the people . . both figuratively and literally, to hold the whole city hostage. It's interesting. It's not what I expected, but . . it is what it is. Unfortunately, to me . . it's just another Electro story. Next issue Spider-man will find a way to beat him, and . . we'll move on to the next threat. Not to much different than any other Electro story. Like I said . . it's interesting, just not that original. Also I'm not thrilled with Paul Azaceta's art. It's very choppy and plain, and really has a kind of 70's type look to it. I'll continue buying the book. I'm just not thrilled with this story-arc. I can't wait until it's over.

Ultimate Comics Avengers #4 - Marvel

I don't know how many people out there read the Ultimate Universe books. I thought it was a pretty popular line, but . . basically, they reinvented it about a year ago. I'm not sure of the decision process behind that. I don't know if it was out of economic necessity, or they just wanted to re-image the brand. But to me . . these books seem as strong or stronger than they were before that decision. This book, which is obviously the next incarnation of the Ultimates, is fantastic. Of course, I'm sure, some of that is due to the fact that Mark Millar is writing the book. But, so far it's been much more action packed, and presented far more original ideas than the 3 previous series. This one started out with the idea that Steve Rogers had a son. In the absence of a father . . or because he was experimented upon incessantly by the government, that boy has turned out to be a real bastard. In fact . . he went so far as to pull the skin off his face and now goes by the name the Red Skull. This is part of what I like so much about the Ultimate Universe. They have the same basic characters as the Marvel Universe, but it seems like the writers can do whatever they want with them. They don't have the constraints of the regular Marvel Universe. In this chapter, Nick and his team have cornered Steve in Paris. They put Steve through his paces, but . . it's really all they can do to keep up with him. They end up taking him down because Wasp swarms him with bugs and he jumps in the river. They're about to lose him to the sewers of Paris when Rhodey electrocutes the river. The War Machine character is simply incredible. There's so much potential here. On top of that we have Nerd Hulk, as he's being called by his creators, and . . Gregory Stark . . Tony's smarter brother. This whole story has come down to the fact that AIM has stolen the blueprints for the Cosmic Cube. They're working to build it, and Nick and Co. are racing to stop them. The wrench in the mix is the Red Skull. At the end of this issue we see that he's killed the man in charge and has taken over the project as his own. That is not a good combination. There's 48 hours before the project is complete, and 2 more issues in this story-arc. Mark's doing a great job here, and Carlos Pacheco is equally impressive on the art. Of course . . maybe it's exciting because it's just nice to see Cap back in action. Anyways, I think it's a book to watch. There's a ton of potential here.

the New Avengers #59 - Marvel

This book is all about the team going after Luke Cage. The interesting part though is the sheer number of characters that come to their aid because of the way that Luke has touched their lives. Just to name a few we have Doctor Voodoo, Misty Knight, the Thing, Iron Fist (of course), Hellcat, Valkyrie, Daredevil and Doctor Strange. A pretty vast and eclectic mix of characters. They decide that in order to safely extract Luke they're going to have to use a 'trick' play. Spider-man actually comes up with the plan. He remembers when he and Daredevil were constantly fighting Wilson Fisk. The Kingpin would throw out a couple of bad-guys on the other side of town, while his real mission was to far away for them to do anything about. Or . . by the time they found out, it was already over. Which is where all the extra help comes him. A large group of them attack Camp Hammond. Norman reacts because he thinks that the Avengers think that's where he's holding Luke. Of course it's not, but . . he's also looking for any excuse for a fight with these guys. His ego will overpower his reasoning. Meanwhile, a smaller group will hit the helicarrier where they are actually holding Luke. Sure it'll be messy, but by the time Norman figures out their real intentions . . he'll be on the other side of the country. There's only a few things the Avengers didn't take into account. First of all, Norman has shields in place to warn him of a psychic, or magical attack. So he knows that Doctor Strange and Doctor Voodoo were there. Well . . maybe not them specifically, but . . someone with magical powers went to check on Luke. The Avengers actually talk about this possibility, but the discount it. They shouldn't have. Secondly, Norman had his surgeon operate on Luke to fix his heart. Norman! So on the final panel when we find out that he also inserted a tracking device, or is it a monitor? . . or bomb? . . it really came as no surprise. The question is . . what is Norman going to do now? I like this book. I like these characters. I think Brian Bendis is doing a great job. And I love Stuart Immonen's art. But . . I think I'm starting to like the Mighty Avengers just a bit more. Not because of any specific reason that I can pin-point. I just do. To me, the biggest difference between the 2 books is that . . this team always seems to be on the defensive. They're always hiding, or trying to fix things that have already happened. But in the Mighty Avengers . . while they're still on the 'outs' because of Norman, they're starting to take the fight to him. They've become more offensive. Anyways, I still like this book. I just always have the question in the back of my mind . . what happens when all of this is over? What happens when they're no longer hiding, or outcast because of Norman Osborn? What happens when the clouds part and they can all function on one team, but . . there's 3 or more teams out there? What happens to all these different groups then?

Avengers: the Initiative #30 - Marvel

Last issue we saw that Trauma has actually Nightmare. This issue . . we find out how that happened. The real story is . . Trauma is actually Nightmare's bastard son. About 20 years ago Terry's mom was in a kind-of cult. It was actually something that Nightmare had put together, but Naomi and some of the others were just looking for a place to crash. She slept with Karl, Nightmare's vessel, just because he was good looking. She wasn't tricked or persuaded into it or anything. Then later when things started getting weird, she and Jerry Ward bolt . . later he would be her husband and Terry's step-father. Now . . now Nightmare wants a conduit into the real world, so that he can take it over. And that conduit is Terry. But he fights back. It would've been a lot easier for Nightmare had Terry remained a loner, because of the trauma of his powers manifesting, but . . Terry adapted. He gathered and kept friends and family. He became part of a group and gained a purpose. This made him a stronger person. But it also weakened Nightmare's hold on him. So basically Nightmare comes out and makes hell out of Camp Hammond. There's no one that Nightmare currently has in his employ that seems able to make any headway. But Nightmare does seem concerned about Penance. He's the first one he takes out. As it turns out I don't think he was so much afraid of his power as he was his connection to Terry. And ultimately that is Nightmare's undoing. That and Terry's connection to Cloud 9. His thoughts . . concerns, worries, guilt . . for his teammates is what I think finally severs his connection. However, Nightmare is nowhere near done as he tells Terry that he has many 'conduits'. Apparently he was a busy man at that cult camp. Anyways, all of this happens as the New Warriors are attempting to free Night Thrasher . . Donyell. And, during the course of all this, Terry tricked Nightmare into giving Penance, Bobby, all of his memories back. He convinced him that it would traumatize him, but . . it actually helped to heal him. They do extract Donyell, but in the process Constrictor learns that Diamondback is actually a double-agent. 'Rachel . . you're working for the other team?' Taken out of context, that sounds like he'd just found out she's gay. I thought that was a little humorous. And, both Penance and Trauma decide to stay at Camp Hammond . . for their own reasons. I really like this book. To me . . it kind of reminds me of the old Legion books. There's so many characters involved, and so many different story-lines happening at any one time. I think Christos Gage is doing a fantastic job. I also like Jorge Molina's pencils. His isn't one of my favorite styles, but . . it does fit this book perfectly.

Wolverine First Class #21 - Marvel

I like this book. I like seeing these younger X-Men. And . . I guess I kind of miss Kitty. The story was a bit predictable, but . . it was still enjoyable. Peter David is writing it now, and his forte seems to be team books, so . . he did a good job with the characters. Basically, Kitty is blowing away any training session that the Professor throws at her. So, I guess . . between he and Logan they decide to up the ante a bit. They stage an event that knocks her out. When she comes to . . she's in a danger room session, but she doesn't know it. They make her think that Magneto has attacked the campus and because of that her powers are on the fritz. Then she's attacked by Logan . . apparently under Magneto's control also. The Professor wanted to see how she'd react under stressful situations . . how she's use her head. Of course she passes with flying colors. Scott Koblish does the art. I like it. It kind of has a John Byrne feel to it in spots. Anyways, pretty basic story really. However, the character interaction was enjoyable, so . . it helped to make the book interesting. I still may still drop this. I mean . . it's not really giving us any new or ground-breaking stories. Actually the stories stay pretty generic so as to not disrupt establish continuity . . I'm sure. It is enjoyable. But . . I could be using this money for a better book. I don't know. I'm still thinking about it. It's easy for me to pick up a new book. It's a lot harder for me to drop one that I've been reading.

New Mutants #7 - Marvel

I have to admit . . I'm liking this story-line. Doug Ramsey was one of my favorite New Mutants . . way back when. He was the little nerdy boy who's only real power was that he could read any language. I like the way they explored that theme last issue by having him read the language of movement as he was fighting his former New Mutant teammates. I thought that was an interesting twist. Then, the first time around, he was infected by the techno-organic virus before he was killed. I always wondered how he could've died if he was mostly a computer program. Anyways, this whole Necrosha thing with Selene has brought him back to life. But seeing as how she's also using a variation of the techno-organic virus to perform her 'miracles', it only seems natural that he appears to be fighting his programming. The only part I don't understand is why Selene is so hell-bent on regaining control of him. The Hellions were sent to attack the X-Men, but now all their effort is focused on retrieving Doug and rebooting him. I mean, other than Selene losing one of her followers, I don't know what the big deal is. The most he can do is tell the X-Men who's behind all of this, but they would've figured that out sooner or later anyways. The only thing I can think of, if Doug does break free of Selene's programming, he may be able to help the X-Men figure out a way to bypass or negate it. Anyways, the Hellions are trying to bring him back in, and Tarot is disciplining him for having any contact with Warlock at all. 'You were to stay away form your friend from the start . . regardless . . you've eaten the apple. The damage is done.' During Doug's fight with Warlock he took his head off and tossed it into the ocean. Doug thinks he's dead, but again . . it's a robot. Who's to say the seat of power is in it's head? But regardless, on the final page we see the head sinking down in the water. It looks like the head is sparking, or something, but as it goes deeper it gets dimmer and dimmer. He's come back from a lot worse than this, so . . I can't imagine that this will slow him down. I thought it was an ok book. I like seeing all these characters back together again, and it looks like eventually Doug and Warlock will also be rejoining the fold. I think Zeb Wells is doing a pretty decent job with the story. Although I'm not overly thrilled with Diogenes Neves pencils. The characters themselves aren't bad . . a little to 'plain' for me. But . . he uses little or no background in most of his panels. I like these character enough that it won't affect my purchase, but . . I really wish they'd get a better artist here. That's just my input.

Wolverine #80 - Marvel

All this book tells me is that there's going to come a time where either Norman is going to have to take out Daken, or . . vice versa. We seem to have a battle of wills between these two. Norman is the leader . . the father figure, but Daken doesn't want to follow his lead anymore. For a while there I was thinking that maybe Daken's objections to Norman's methods were altruistic . . maybe he was trying to change his ways. He did go to the Fantastic Four for help afterall. But we see this issue that Daken hasn't changed a bit. Norman tried to set up Daken as a hero. He was going to have him arrest and take down 3 known villains, Emmy Doolin, Cutthroat and the Inquisitor. However, things didn't go as planned and the 3 of them beat Daken to within an inch of his life. Now he just wants revenge. Norman makes a deal with the villains that if they give themselves up, to Daken, he'll process them through the system and then turn them over to the Initiative. Daken goes along with it because by doing so Norman is giving him what he wants. But when he reneges on the deal, Norman blows up the house where they were all hiding. But this ends up working out for Daken anyways. He gets the villains out of the wreckage before being found by Norman, and walks out of the burning house with baby in hand for the heroic sound-bite. Now all he has to do is go back to the place where he was hiding them, and take them apart piece by piece . . which he does. The final one is Emmy. She tries to talk to him, plead to him, even find something in common. But, in the end . . he kills her anyways. However, with her final breaths, she does stand up to him . .'I'm not . . nothing. I'm the beautiful woman . . who let you live.' To me the final pages were the most moving of the whole book. It also showed us that no matter what Daken does, or how he acts . . at the core of his being he's still just an animal. And that's not going to change. Daniel Way and Marjorie Liu did a great job with this book. I can't wait to see the day when Daken and Norman finally square off. Stephen Segovia and Paco Diaz Luque do the art. I liked it. I thought it fit the book perfectly. And you gotta love that Greg Land cover.

Uncanny X-Men #517 - Marvel

Last issue we saw that Scalphunter was bearing down on the island in a plane loaded with . . not one, but 5 Predator X. Kurt did a little reconnaissance and gave the team a warning, but . . it wasn't much of one. By the time Scott takes the plane down, it only kills one of the beasts . . and the rest are left close enough to swim to shore. The ensuing battle went pretty much as expected. One by one the X-Men take down the animals, with various tactics and the military like leadership of Scott. As far as that goes . . it was all rather predictable. But I'm guessing that was the point behind the whole thing. Whomever sent these animals after the X-Men had to have known that they would take them all down . . especially in their seat of power. At most they probably thought that the X-Men would lose 1 or 2 soldiers in the process. But that doesn't happen. So I'm thinking that this was a way to measure the X-Men. While they stood back and watched, they could measure the X-Men's readiness and response. I'm not sure how, but I think because of that they take out their strongest weapon, the Cuckoos and the Phoenix force. With them in place it was relatively easy for Scott to coordinate the whole thing, putting his biggest bats in the game while keeping the rest of his Nation X relatively safe. But no sooner do they beat the final Predator X than the Cuckoos go down, and it appears that the Phoenix force leaves, heading off into space. Now the X-Men just have to figure out why these things were cybernetically enhanced, and who sent them. To me, the most important part of the story was the little pieces of information that come out during all of this. First of all, we see that Namor is still on his own page. He doesn't like to take orders and has no intentions of being a soldier. Also while he's out in the ocean fighting one of them, all by himself, he's quickly aided by a squad of his elite guard. 'My lord. I have 2 dozen of the finest warriors Atlantis ever bred armed and ready to alleviate you of this tiresome task . .' So it looks like Namor isn't as alienated as he thought he was. I don't think he'll be sticking around with the X-Men very much longer. Also, when Magneto tries to take out one of the monsters . . they are covered with liquid metal after all, he finds out that his age appears to be catching up with him. He becomes over taxed very quickly. Maybe that's why he's here. He either knows that he's living on borrowed time, or . . he's not near the powerful tyrant that he once was. Maybe he just doesn't have the strength or stamina to be a world conqueror anymore. Also, we get a great display of Rogue's 'new' powers. When one of the Predator X is bearing down on her and the kids, she absorbs the powers of all 7 of them, simultaneously. She then takes on the animal solo, and with the coordination of all the powers quickly takes the thing apart. 'Hol-lee . . we can . . we can do that?' Rogue simply responds, 'Teamwork's a hell of a thing, kids . .' And finally, as Scott's about to take out the last one, Scalphunter comes to his aid and blows the animal away. Is he going to switch sides too? Scott's not going to take the chance. He puts him in the brig right away, and Danger begins interrogating him. It was also interesting to note that Emma wasn't really happy with Scott during this whole thing. I don't know if she didn't like his assertiveness or leadership. During the heat of battle she even makes the comment to Rogue, 'God knows we'd hate to upset Scott Summers.' But I'm not sure if that's her talking or the influence of the Void. Or it could just be because she's stuck in her diamond form. But that may not matter because after the Cuckoos are taken out Scott decides that it's time that they do a psychic rescue and get Emma out of her diamond prison. Apparently that's what the next issue is going to be about. I thought this was a fantastic issue . . obviously, because of my lengthy detail here . . and Matt Fraction is doing a terrific job. I think he's got a great handle on all these characters and I love the direction that he seems to be steering them in. Also Greg Land's art was a beautiful as usual. Next issue should be . . interesting.

the Ghoul #1 - IDW Publishing

To be perfectly honest with you . . the only reason I picked up this book is because it was by Steve Niles and Berni Wrightson. I had picked up their previous work for IDW, Dead, She Said and I thought it was pretty good. So when I saw this one, I had to give it a shot. This actually came out a couple of weeks ago, but I ran across the variant on E-Bay. Which is what brought it to my attention. My guy at the shop had 1 copy left. Anyways, the story is about this LAPD Detective, Lloyd Klimpt. He's got this special case he's been working on and through association he found out that the LAPD and NYPD had a special relationship with the FBSI, Federal Bureau of Supernatural Investigation. And more specifically, one of their chief operatives . . the Ghoul. Until he actually saw him, Lloyd was certain that the Ghoul was an urban legend. But through some special arrangements, he got him to come to LA and look into this case with him. In a nutshell . . he's looking into the Atwood family. 3 generations of movie stars. The problem is . . Lloyd thinks these women are all the same people. In fact the movie stars are just the most recent, and famous, part of this family. He did some digging and found out that the uncanny resemblance of these women actually go back 10 generations. They changed their last names a few times over the course of those years, but settled on Atwood for the last 3. However, before they can get started there's something the Ghoul wants to take care of while he's here . . 'Tonight is Walpurgisnacht, the night the devil, his demons, and all things evil walk the Earth. Don't worry, just a couple hundred, most likely.' How much do you want to bet that these 2 things are connected. I love Steve's work. He really writes this book with an old film-noir style. And what can I say about Berni. The guys a legend. It's hard to believe that he's 61 and still producing this good of work. Anyways, this was the introduction chapter, so hopefully we'll get more into the story next issue. Now if I can just pick up one of those variant covers . . cheap!

Project Superpowers: Meet the Bad Guys #4 - Dynamite Entertainment

In this mini-series, we see one of the heroes in each issue, but the main focus is on the villains. Hence the title. Anyways, this issue we finally learn some more about the Supremacy. In the 40's, when all the heroes were sucked into the urn, these participants saw the opportunity to shape the world in their own image. And they have been doing so ever since . . pretty much uncontested. But now . . now with the return of the heroes, they find themselves in the position of having to protect their power . . to even have to fight for it. It's not something they're used to having to do. During one of their secret meetings, Baron Black brings up his concern that they have a traitor within their midst. To me, the weakness I see in this group is that there's no clear leadership. Every one of them is so consumed with their own power and rank that they would never be able to follow the lead of another. It appears that everything here is done pretty much democratically. Ironic, huh? Anyways, they're just confirming the suspicions that we already know to be true. One of their brethren, Amon Khadul is actually the Scarab. This issue he fights a new threat from Baron Black, his Sentry robots. In his fight he also reveals his own secret power . . 'When it comes to any form of technology, it's almost like I can communicate with it . . and shut it down.' Being one of their own, and trying to hide his identity, you'd think he wouldn't want to be such an obvious thorn in their side. I could see him maybe feeding information to the other heroes, but not necessarily being in the middle of things. Anyways, it was a very informational issue. And it helped us get into the heads of these Supremacy creeps just a little bit. I thought Alex Ross and Joe Casey did a great job. But the real star of this book is the artwork of Jackson Herbert. I assume this guy is new to the business, but he showed some tremendous work this issue. The whole thing was in a painted style. And . . if this is some of his first work? . . this guy has some huge potential. But with all of these books . . it seems like the art gets better and better every issue. It's making it hard for me to give up on the whole thing. But I'll keep thinking about it.

WildCATS #17 - WildStorm

It's about to be the end of the world, or . . the beginning of the new one. The one that Tao creates. Last issue Max gave Tao what he wanted by whispering the Creation Equation into his ear. But Ladytron made a little gamble. 'When Max was whispering the secret formula to you, I pirated it. Picked up what he said on my directional mike. And beamed it into all our ears. So yer a god, huh? Welcome to the friggin' club!' Everyone that's gathered her to fight Tao has been given a piece of the creation equation. But Tao has been doing this longer than any of them . . he's more experienced. So he takes them all to the Hallow Realm. It's kind of a psychic dimension . . a dimension of the mind, the soul. There he gives each of his enemies their worst fears and hatreds to fight. Each time one of them loses, he gathers up their power making him stronger, and intensifying his focus on the others. The only ones to slip under the radar here are Void, and Susanna Faraday . . Max's wife. She also has a bit of the creation power. Anyways, the 2 of them watch what's going on and try to find the pattern. For the most part, it all seems to be about tearing apart families and loved ones. They think it may have to do with the fact that he was a clone . . a genetic experiment. He never had parents or a family. And then Susanne is talking about her work with special needs children, and it hits here. She knows what this is all about and how to beat him. The issue ends with Void and Susanne confronting Tao. He thinks he's just going to snatch the Creation Energy from them, but . . the girls have a different idea. 'We know what you are. You claim you want to tear our world down. You poor, poor man. We're about to tear down yours.' It's about time they took this guy down a peg. Christos Gage is doing a great job with this book. And overall I think the guy has dramatically improved since entering into this profession. Next issue, hopefully, he'll wrap up this story-line and we can move on to the WildCATS figuring out what to do about the scorched Earth. Also fantastic art by Shawn Moll. Not to mention the great covers by Ryan Sook. I really like this book and these characters. I'm glad they've made such a strong come-back.

Madame Xanadu #17 - Vertigo

Madame Xanadu has moved into the 50's or 60's now. There hasn't been much magical activity in the last decade or so, ever since the end of World War II. But, she's concerned about her friend, Betty Reynolds. So she's starting to look into things that may be affecting the magic ripples. She following a group called the Church of the Midnight Dawn. They appear to be satanists, but . . their leader, Fred Hanson, seems to be collecting money for some type of artifact that they want. Actually it's 3, and they're very specific when the turn over the list, and the money to someone connected with the mob. This is how the good Madame comes in to contact with one Detective Jones. We'll come to know him better as the Martian Manhunter . . but not for years. Anyways, her friend Betty seems to be going through some sort of Transubstantial Possession. That's where something possesses a person . . not only their thoughts, but their body as well. Everything about her has been changing over the last few weeks . . hair color, eye color, frame . . even her teeth. It isn't until the end of this story that we find out that she's actually being posessed by Nimue's sister, Morgana . . Morgaine le Fey! The crap's about to hit the fan now. Matt Wagner has done a terrific job with this book. It's hard to believe that he's taken such an insubstantial character from the 70's and enriched her with all of this intricate history. And although I'm a huge fan of Michael Wm Kaluta's art, I'm glad that Amy Reeder Hadley is back on the book. She's grown so much since the first issue of this book. Her style has really helped to define this character. I enjoy reading this book every month.

Billy Batson and the Magic of SHAZAM! #10 - DC

Well . . Billy still can't turn back in to Captain Marvel. Remember . . last issue he was staying in the Captain's form for a long time, and the longer he did so . . the meaner he got. Mary finally helped him get switched back, but now they need to get to the Rock of Eternity and tell the Wizard what's going on. If anyone can help them, it's him. Anyways, on the way to the Subway station they come across a bank robbery. It's unique in that it's being robbed by ordinary citizens. There's this nerdy guy, who calls himself Axe, and he uses his guitar, Matilda, to hypnotize the people around him. So he's actually the one robbing the bank, but he doesn't have to do any of the dirty work. Anyways, Mary switches to try to go in and help, but he just hypnotizes her. So now it's up to Billy. He accidentally finds out that the coins short out his guitar, so he throws a whole bunch at him. Afterwards Billy's concerned that the evil and anger from Captain Marvel is starting to seep into him as well. When he was beating up Axe . . he was enjoying it. So now he and Mary desperately want to get to the Wizard. I like this book. Yeah it's for kids. But I think Art Baltazar, Franco and Byron Vaughns are doing a great job here. As I've said before, there's really no other outlet for Captain Marvel right now . . except for Freddie, over in Cry for Justice . . but Captain Marvel isn't really anywhere to be seen. Except for here. Basically . . I'm sayin', we have to take what we can get. But I really do like this book. It's fun.

World's Finest #2 - DC

So it appears that rather than focusing on the actual World's Finest team, this book is based on the supporting characters of each of the icons. One for each. This issue it's Damian and the Guardian. Basically, Parasite and Mr Freeze have teamed up because the Parasite has fed on Mon El already . . and I guess he liked it. But, in the process he's learned that Mon El is dying. I don't think he knows that it's the lead-poisoning, but . . he figures that if Mr Freeze can freeze the guy, he'll have his own unlimited power source. And if he keeps the guy on ice . . he'll never die. Anyways, Robin gets involved because in order to power this device, they have to steal a 'Zero-degree cryonic-stasis engine' from Waynetech. And with everything that's been going on with Hush . . Dick and Damian are rather fond of the idea of keeping their hands on the items they have left. You never know when Hush, posing as Bruce, might decide to have a garage sale or something. Anyways, long story short, they team-up . . rather reluctantly . . and capture both of the criminals. However when they send them away for lock-up, unbeknownst to them or the other Science Police Officers . . the transport has been switched with one of the Toy-Man's own. I'm not sure what he wants these 2 for, but . . back at his base, or warehouse, or whatever, he's constructing a giant robot that's an amalgamation of Superman and Batman. Overall I enjoyed this book, but I think it was mostly due to Damian's character. The kid's feisty and rebellious . . and he doesn't listen to authority, but . . I like him. I think he's a great character. Actually, he kind of reminds me of Dick Grayson in Frank Miller's All-Star Batman & Robin series . . young, cocky and ready to take on the world. Safety be damned. Sterling Gates writes the book, with Ramon Bachs and Rodney Ramos providing the art. I liked it. The covers aren't overly exciting, but . . so far I like the stories in these first 2 books. It's a shame it's only a mini-series. But hey . . if it sells enough . . who knows?

Arkham Reborn #2 - DC

Jeremiah is doing everything he can to make the rebuilding of the Asylum a success, but . . things may be out of his control. At first he thinks there's some glitches, but . . things are happening to often to be coincidental. Some plumbing problems here, and electrical glitch there . . but the things that have been happening are to specific. Take Mr Freeze, for instance. The cooling unit in his cell goes out, so Jeremiah has him transferred to the meat locker. They barely have him in place, and starting to cool down,when the meat locker malfunctions. They move him somewhere else, but the meat locker starts working after they leave. Anyways, Jeremiah doesn't know it yet but his right-hand man, Alyce Sinner is in cahoots with the Black Mask. I don't know if the Black Mask is upset because they've recaptured about 70% of the prisoners that he set loose . . or maybe he's mad because they're diminishing his work force. Whatever the reason, Black Mask wants Jeremiah and the Asylum to go down in flames. 'I want Arkham to see himself as others see him . . an inadequate, dirt-eating worm. So tell me . . is he close to breaking?' Alyce even uses a voice modulator, and a computer graphic of the original curator, Amadeus Arkham, to stir up the inmates. By the time Jeremiah attends the gala fund-raiser for the new therapy wing of the Asylum . . Alyce has incited a full scale riot. I'm just not sure why Black Mask is so desperate to break Jeremiah. I guess we'll find out next issue, as it's the last of the series. David Hine writes this story. I love David's work, but . . things just don't seem to original here. Not compared to his usual work. However, with a 3 issue series, he doesn't have to much lateral room to work with. But the proof is in the pudding. We'll see how he wraps it all up next issue. Jeremy Haun is the penciller. His work is . . ok. It's not necessarily a style that I like, but . . it does fit this book well. Covers are by Frazer Irving. Overall I thought it was an ok book . . a little boring and predictable. But as I said . . we'll see what happens next issue.

the Web #3 - DC

Well the Web's little franchise experiment . . it kind of blew up in his face. Last issue John Raymond decided that there was just to many people out there that needed his help for just one man to handle. The requests on his web-page were just overwhelming. So . . he decided to give out what he called Web-hosts. Basically it's a franchise kind of thing. He put out a request for people that may be interested, and then he set up the guidelines for the computer to pick who would receive his gifts. Some were ex-military, some were just people with a grudge, but some honestly wanted to do some good. The problem . . as seen by the Justice League . . is that there's a whole bunch of new vigilantes out there with no training going at anything that they might perceive as 'wrong'. So . . at the end of last issue, Batgirl punched out his lights, and Oracle shut him down. Overall, he's got good intentions. But without any way to police his Web-hosts, he's just thrown some 'power' into, I'm sure, more than a few undeserving hands. Oracle ends up making a deal with him. 'I have some cutting-edge software that will overhaul your system. It will give you eyes around the globe and access to millions of encrypted databases. I'm sure it can help you find one man. In return? You bring the Web-hosts under some sort of organizational umbrella and agree to coordinate their efforts with those of the Justice League so we stay out of each others way.' John isn't overly happy with that, but . . he doesn't have much of a choice. And once he goes through the headache of trying to talk some sense into these hundreds of people that he's given suits to . . he finds out just how effective Oracle's 'upgrades' are. He uses 'crowd sourcing' to basically anybody who'll listen if they've seen Dr Archer. He immediately gets a response. Between twitters and cell-phone pictures he knows exactly where he's at and what he's doing. Once he goes to confront him, and is about to kill him, he realizes that he's being watched by millions. Some agree . . some don't. But the point is . . his every move is being watched. So he takes the unconscious Dr Archer to the police. Later, when he goes home, April comes over the confront him. She tried to get him to leave these people alone, but now that he's stirred things up she's afraid that they'll never be able to get John's brother's real killer. 'Dr Archer was just a foot-soldier. The man who ordered the hit on David is Deuces Wilde.' He did it because . . not for money . . not for power, or secrets, or some other hidden agenda . . he did it because . . 'He thinks he's in love with me.' I think this book shows a lot of potential. Angela Robinson and Roger Robinson are doing a great job. It's inventive and original, and they keep just enough humor in there. It's sarcastic, but not 'campy'. I think this one is going to work. Now the Hangman feature . . I got kind of bored with it. I'm not saying it wasn't interesting, but . . as I was reading it I just kind of felt like . . 'who cares?'. I think John Rozum is doing the best he can with what he's got. It's kind of hard to develop a character, and his supporting cast with only 8 pages to work with. Once we get to know some of them better, maybe I'll be more interested. But for now . . the art is the best part of the story. It's by Tom Derenick and Bill Sienkiewicz. Together I think they do a terrific job. This one . . we'll just have to wait and see.

Detective #859 - DC

Finally . . this issue we get some of the background on Kate. We still don't know what her connection to the crime-bible is though. The former followers of Lilith are ready to worship her now, since she supposed killed their high-priestess last issue. Whether she actually did though . . remains to be seen. But she wants nothing to do with them. But, I do think her curiosity is peaked as to how they knew that she was a twin. However, that's not enough to get her to stick around and ask questions. 'Listen carefully. I am not part of you. You will all stay away from me. And away from my family . . or I will kill every last one of you.' Anyways, this story picks up about the time that Kate is ready to graduate from West Point. It appears that she only has a semester or 2 left. But she broke the cardinal rule . . she fell in love with another cadet. And on top of that . . it was her bunk-mate, Sophie Moore. Because of that, she was kicked out of the Army. She came home, and it appears that she knew Renee Montoya from before she left. During this story, Renee is still a patrol officer. After pulling her over they start things up again. But Renee isn't happy that she's dropped out of school. She wants Kate to have more focus in her life. That's when the event happens that changes her life. She's down about her recent fight with Renee, and while walking the streets someone tries to mug her. She's been an Army officer, so of course she can fight the guy off, but when she turns around she sees Batman standing there. She's startled, so she falls down. He gives her a hand up . . and then he takes off into the night. As she watches him fly away . . you can see that something has changed. Next issue, hopefully, we'll see the jump from her watching Batman in the shadows . . to wearing her own black leather outfit. Greg Rucka and JH Williams III are doing a fantastic job with this book. So far I've been thrilled with every issue. I especially like the way that JH Williams III changes his styles up depending on where he is in the story. It shows some great dramatic effect. Anyways, in the back-up . . Renee is still following this trafficking ring. It starts with trafficking women, but it seems to involve pretty much anything. Which means . . organized crime. In this chapter we learn that they've noticed her and have decided to strike back. At the end of the story we see that they're hiring someone 'special' to go after her. Well . . and the Huntress too, since she helps her out this time. This was also a good story by Greg as well, and Cully Hamner on the art. I'm glad to see how strong this book has gotten lately. It's always been one of my favorites, but . . it hasn't always been one of the best. I'm glad things have changed.

Gotham City Sirens #6 - DC

It appeared that the Joker had taken exception to our erstwhile trio here, so he attacked them . . and tried to burn down their hideout. But, come to find out, it wasn't actually the Joker, but rather his first sidekick . . Gaggy. It wasn't actually the Joker that took exception, but rather Gaggy because he blamed Harley for the way the boss had changed. He was no longer the Clown Prince of Crime, but rather 'My Joker had become a sullen psychotic creep. Someone needed to restore his reputation and the Prince of Pranksters.' But it seems to me that with the passion that he's gone after Harley with . . it kind of looks like Gaggy is the same type of psychotic creep. Anyways, in the end, with the help of the girl they got reconstructing their club-house, Ivy, Selina and Harley take Gaggy down and give him the 'ol 'what-for'. Hey . . if Gaggy can use the word 'flummoxed', then I can certainly use the phrase 'the 'ol what-for'. Right? Anyways, it was an entertaining issue. Harley is already an interesting character, but when you throw her in with Ivy and Selina . . well, it's not the Birds of Prey, but . . it's something. I really like the interaction between these women, and . . I like what they bring out in each other. Ivy's personality is tolerable. Selina is like the den-mother. And Harley? Well, let's just say Harley is starting to see some of the error of her ways. No she's not going straight. But . . I think she's starting to realize that she doesn't have to act the buffoon all of the time to play off of the people around her. Needless to say, I think Paul Dini has a great handle on this whole little group. I've really enjoyed these first 6 issues. I also like the feel that Guillem March brings to the book. He draws some great action scenes and I love his framing. I think we definitely have another hit in the Batman-family of books here. Keep up the good work guys!

Wonder Woman #38 - DC

It appears that Alkyone is going to get her way . . Diana is scheduled to be executed. I'm not sure what her ultimate goal is, but . . she's trying to knock out some of the others along the way. For some reason she's got Achilles wrapped around her finger. I don't even think they've consummated their marriage. So he must be afraid of her, but I don't understand why. Anyways, she manipulates him into following through with her plans. She's got to know that Artemis and the rest of the Bana-Mighdall will raise up with arms before they'll let this happen. But I think that's what she's counting on. I think she's hoping that in the melee the Amazons will wipe out most of the men. But the part I don't understand is . . Alkyone has risen to this position of power. I can't imagine that she'd want to give that up. But she keeps saying that once Diana is killed, their homeland can return to paradise island, with Hippolyta as their queen. In order to ensure this . . Alkyone has released the spirit of Genocide and allowed it to enter hers, and the rest of her circle's souls. While Alkyone is going through with the false execution . . remember, she just wants the Amazons to raise thier arms against the men . . Achilles has gone to Diana in her cell and they have come to an agreement. 'Diana, please. If I know anything about you, I know one thing. That you forgive those who have been foolish and come to regret their foolishness. I need you to use that forgiveness, on both of us. Alkyone must be stopped, Princess. I have done many misdeeds. But I will not allow you to sacrifice yourself. And we have a war to kill.' But it's a false execution because Alkyone has Phinea dressed up as Diana with a sack over her head. Remember, she's doing all of this to start a war. So . . she sacrifices Phinea anyways. It appears that besides all her other deceptions, she's also playing with some dark magic. 'Yes, I took poor Phinea in your stead. Because I made a bargain with the dark heart of Themyscira, Diana. And he wanted you alive. Meet the Cottus, Diana. Meet the maker of your flesh.' It's a big giant centipede looking demon . . with hundreds of human arms making up it's body. Next issue wraps up this story-arc, but . . I don't know if it'll wrap up this story, or just this chapter of it. I have a feeling it's going to be a pretty packed issue. I think Gail Simone is doing a terrific job here. Yes she's brought some changes, but . . it's ok to shake things up every now and then. These events, I think, are taking Diana to her lowest point . . ever! I have a feeling that it's going to be a while before she gets back to the person she was before all of this . . if ever. Aaron Lopresti, as usual, turns in some fantastic pages this issue. I've been a fan of his for quite a while, but I think I like his stuff on this book more and more with every issue. I can't wait to see where we go from here.

Teen Titans #77 - DC

This issue wasn't at all what I expected. I guess the cover threw me off. This issue is entirely about the ghosts of Slade Wilson . . Deathstroke the Terminator. If you don't know everything about this character already, you will by the time you get done reading this one. We start out with Wintergreen's download . . that's the informational stage that the Black Rings go through before the bring the corpses back to life . . or a semblance of it. Wintergreen was Slade's confidant, best friend and colleague. But in the end . . Slade chopped his head off. Or rather Joey did, when he possessed his father. Anyways, it's a big family reunion. Slade is looking through Wintergreen's journals at one of his safe houses . . he's destroying them all. He's trying to start over. Anyways, Rose shows up. She wants to kill him for everything that he's put her through over the years. But before she gets the chance . . Grant, and Slade's brother, Wade show up. Grant almost takes out Slade, but then Rose jumps in. I don't think she was necessarily trying to save him. I just think she wanted him for herself. And it's not bad enough that these 2 psychotics are brought back, but then Wintergreen and Adeline show up. On the final page we get the real surprise of the book. As Rose is trying to burn up Grant in the fireplace, who should show up but . . Joey. I guess he's alive after all. So now I'm wondering how much of this has been the work of the Black Lanterns, and how much was Joey's creation. He's warped enough to jump in on this band-wagon just for the revenge factor. And that's what a family reunion at the Wilson household looks like. I really liked the story that JT Krul gave us here. Like I said, if you weren't familiar with Slade's character, his history and family . . you should be by the end of this issue. And Joe Bennett did a great job with the art. My only complaint? We didn't see a single Titan. Well . . Rose. But I'm not actually sure that she's a Titan anymore. I'd ask Cassie, but . . she's nowhere to be found. Next issue will probably be pretty much the same. I hope we get some Titans in there though.

Superman #694 - DC

I have to say, the thing I liked the best about this book was that Mon El was comfortable enough to go to Ma Kent to talk to her. He was concerned about the way he felt that his mission was going. His main concern is that he doesn't know if he's done enough to live up to Superman's image and ideals. He afraid that even though he's filling in for Superman . . he thinks that everyone has all but forgot him. So he wants to do something in 'tribute' to the man . . the legend. Luckily, Ma is the voice of reason and she stays up all night to sew him the new costume that you see pictured on the cover here. There's also a nice little heart to heart conversation that he has with Connor. Anyways, he wants to tell the world about General Lane. After the attack on Mon El by Reactron and Metallo, Lane held him as a prisoner. Until the Parasite broke him out . . by accident. He tried to double-cross him . . after he siphoned off some of his power, he made his escape, but there was enough damage and confusion that Mon El was also able to get out. While he was the Generals captive Mon El saw and learned some of the things that Lane is up to, and his plan to discredit and disgrace Superman. Then, for some reason, Metallo comes to town. Mon El is fighting him, but in the confusion a child becomes trapped in a car. Mon El is trying to save her, but Bizarro just won't let go of him. So while all of this is going on, Mon El notices his friend Mitch in the crowd. When Mitch sees Mon El's predicament he offers to help. He goes over to girl that's stuck, and . . he eats the car to get her out. Apparently this is Matter-eater Lad hiding out in the 21st century. In the Lightning story-line we learned that there were some Legion members left in the 21st century for some reason. Some covert mission. We still don't know what that is, but at least now we know who one of them is. The issue ends when Mon El tries to get Bizarro away from the crowds, but then he losses his powers, again. We look up to see that the Parasite has come back for another recharging. But by doing so, he's going to leave Mon El at the mercy of Bizarro. I enjoy James Robinson's stories. But I think his strength is in the quieter moments. Like when Mon El is talking to Ma and Connor. James does a fantastic job with the dialogue between these characters. This issue Javier Pina does the pencils. I'm not sure if he'll be sticking around, but I really like his stuff. I became a fan back when he was doing ManHunter, but I haven't seen him do much lately. Overall I thought it was a pretty decent issue. I'm glad that Mon El is back.

Justice League - Cry for Justice #5 - DC

I'm not sure where this picture on the left came from, but . . I liked it, so I went ahead and kept it. The picture on the right . . with Freddy kissing Kara . . that's the actual cover to this issue. Anyways, some of the League is begrudgingly coming back together this issue. Hal and Ollie group have come back to the satellite with Dinah and her group because . . after the trouncing they took last issue by the surprise attack by Prometheus when he had Clayface pose as him, they've started to realize that although some of their ideas of justice may differ . . which is what kind of led to the split, there's still something to be said for the strength in numbers. Plus, I think now that they realize that they're up against a new and improved Prometheus . . they barely beat him when he was a joke . . they may need all the help they can get. Which is kind of how Bill and Mik approach Buddy Baker when they come to his house. They're also after Prometheus, and because of Bill's connection with Buddy, I think they're hoping that he'll put in a good word with the League for them. So anyways, after a little bickering, they all decide to get back together. Which already makes for a rather large group. But then Buddy shows up with Bill, Mik, Donna and Kory in tow and they also want in on the action. After a little conversation, they all realize that they're after the same guy. A couple of things come to light this issue. First of all when Batwoman has to fight Endless Winter, she's questioning her when her head explodes. Come to find out, she's been outfitted with the type of device that Waller used to use to keep her Squad in line. Next, the Guardian intercepts some technology that someone named Plunder was trying to set up. After examining everything, they determine that with the amalgamation of technology . . Zeta, time-pool, and some others, that Prometheus is trying to build a teleporter. But one that could transport anywhere in time, space or even maybe other dimensions. Also . . it's big enough to teleport a whole city. That doesn't tell them what his ultimate goal is, but now they no why he's been stealing all of this technology. Anyways, at the end of the book, something happens that kind of confuses me. Roy had supposedly left to go say goodbye to Lian. Next thing we know he's walking through the hallway profusely bleeding with most of his right arm chopped off. Bill was the first to notice that something was wrong. He could smell that Prometheus was on board. They continue their search and they find Freddy standing over a knocked out Bill and Flash, fighting ruthlessly with Kara. So . . the easy answer here would be that there's something up with Freddy. Either he's not who we think he is, or he's being controlled. But that answer seems to easy for me. I'm thinking that Roy wasn't actually himself. I think that either Prometheus had Clayface do another impersonation, or . . someone else is posing as Roy. But I'm not sure what's to be gained by all of this. So far Prometheus has gone out of his way not to engage the heroes . . not directly. They've been fighting a lot of villains, but . . they also know that's probably been mostly a distraction. But now, for some reason, he's taken the fight right to the League. And coincidentally, just as all of them have finally come back together. This story was called 'the Lie'. So obviously someone wasn't who they said they were. We're led to believe that it's Freddy, but . . I'm leaning towards Roy. But I could go out on a limb here and say that it might be Kara also. Anyways, as supported by my speculation here . . this was another fantastic book by James Robinson and Mauro Cascioli. Mauro's art was so good that in the beginning of the book, when Donna and Kory are hanging out at Buddy's pool . . I've never seen either of them look hotter. Visually . . it was an incredible issue. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Superman / Batman #66 - DC

Most of these stories take place in the past, or alternate realities, but . . with Blackest Night running it's course through the DC books, I was wondering how they were going to explain it here. Batman's dead afterall, and Superman is exiled to New Krypton. How would they explain that away? Well . . as it turns out . . they don't have to. This story takes place in Gotham. Mat-Bat and SHADE are there because they're trying to find a way to save Francine's husband . . he's got cellular degeneration on a massive level. Meanwhile a black ring lands and attaches itself to Solomon Grundy. Apparently Scott Kolins does everything Grundy now. He just got done doing that 7 issue series, and now he writes and draws this book. Anyways, for some reason Bizarro is also in town. And he's feeling lonely. When he spies Man-Bat as Francine is giving him an inoculation . .'Ah . . me no like cuddly quiet Batman . . new enemy! Hey, why she shoot . . she give him powers! . . make him bigger . . stronger! She nice! Me like! Me no save . . RRR . . good man. Help my enemies! Bizarro really like!' He sees Man-Bat as the Batman to his Superman. The problem is, Francine doesn't need this right now. She needs Kirk to stay calm, and in human form, so that she can give him the inoculation and save her husband. When Bizarro comes in, Kirk tries to lead him away from Francine. And then . . then Grundy attacks them both. Bizarro sees him as a friend because of their previous adventure together, but Grundy doesn't want anything to do with him. The issue ends with Francine trying to get Kirk to change back, so she can give him the formula. If she doesn't . . he'll probably die. And Grundy is attacking Bizarro over Gotham. He looks to be on the brink of ripping out his heart. It was an interesting book. Grundy had to come back this way because at the end of the mini-series supposedly he wouldn't be able to come back again. But it seems to me that the Black ring would have a hard time hanging on to this guy. Anyways, we'll find out next issue what the outcome of all of this is, but . . I think this is basically a vehicle to bring Grundy back. We'll see.

Justice Society of America #33 - DC

This issue leads directly into the new title next month . . JSA All-Stars. Stepping back a bit though . . most of this issue is spent with the Society fighting all of these villains that have come to collect the bounties on all of these various members heads. And we still don't know why Courtney is off limits. Anyways, as it turns out, the All American Kid was responsible for the whole thing. I know, he convinced everybody last issue that is was really King Chimera. Well it turns out that there never really was an All American Kid. He's actually Jeremy Karne . . Kid Karnevil, a sociopath and killer. But he still completed his mission. His sole mission was to attack the Justice Society and obtain Obsidian . . which he completes this issue. All he has to do is pick up the egg that Obsidian has regressed himself into. Easy peesy! Obsidian gets taken away by the shadowy figure that was working with Kid Karnevil, but when the kid confronts Michael he's captured . . along with about a dozen other of the villains. So obviously Dr Fate's attempt at healing Michael worked. And, Dr Fate is the one that actually turns the tide with all the villains. 'Something happened in there . . I'm not sure what . . while I was trying to pull Mister Terrific back from the brink of death. It's like something got unlocked, or a door was kicked open, or . . hell, I don't know. But all of a sudden I knew what I was doing. For a brief moment, I felt like the other Kent Nelson . . the one who could command all of the forces of the supernatural.' So obviously we'll see more of him in the book now . . at least . . one of the books. Because next issue the JSA will be . . 'A House Divided'. I'm sure we'll get all the details of whose on what team between JSA #34 and All-Stars #1. Meanwhile I thought this was a great issue. Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges did a great job of wrapping up this story. Sure there's still some villains out there that may return for the massive bounties, and . . we still don't know who hired them all, but . . other than that, everything else is wrapped up and now our team has decided to split because of a difference in ideologies. Bill and Matt did a great job leading the team down this dark path. Oh yeah, we also don't know why they wanted Obsidian. And, as much as I miss Dale Eaglesham's pencils on this book, I really like the fresh look that Jesus Merino is bringing to these characters. Yes I was sad when the old guard left, but . . I guess it was time to shake things up a bit. I think the book is just as strong now as it's ever been. Even with half of them leaving.

Justice League of America #39 - DC

We all saw the heroes and villains rise from the crypts of the Hall of Justice. So it was only a matter of time before they came back here to find out what was going on. Almost immediately Zatanna is confronted by her dead father, Zatarra. She asks the others to go and handle the rest of the resurrected because she wants to handle her father on her own. Plus . . she doesn't want to put them in the remote danger that magic brings with it. They fight for a while and then she takes them someplace away from the others. The rest of them wander through the halls waiting for something to jump out at them. Kimiyo, Dr Light is the first to break away from the pack. She senses the original Doctor Light in the building and wants to confront him on her own. Meanwhile the rest of the gang is left to face Vibe and Steel. This issue doesn't really progress the story very much. We all knew they were going to face these Black Lanterns sooner or later. And the only person in this group that may stand a chance of having any sort of effect on them is Dr Light. Although, you never know with Zatanna's magic. She may be able to pull something out of her hat. Anyways, the issue ends with everyone being attacked by their various 'family' members. James Robinson writes this book, but other than the dialogue there probably wasn't to much input he could add to the story. I'm sure everyone is on Geoff Johns' fixed plan here. So all of these 'cross-overs' are meant as filler until we can get to the final installments of Blackest Night. But I thought it was a decent book. Mark Bagley provides the art.

Superman: Secret Origin #3 - DC

I really like this team of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank. They really seem to bring out the best in each other. They've done a few story-arcs together now, and I feel like each of them knows what the other expects and is trying to do with their respective parts of the story-telling process. They're a dream team . . if you will. Anyways, this issue gives us Clark's first day in Metropolis. Like the usual farm-boy coming to the 'big-city', at first he's overwhelmed by the sheer size and scope of everything. And he definitely seems like the proverbial 'hay-seed' coming to the big new world. But that's quickly put aside as he rushes to get to his first day on the job. The way that the Daily Planet is portrayed would be kind of funny . . if it weren't so sad. Basically, the paper has been black-balled by Lex Luthor because he didn't like some of the 'revealing' stories that the Planet has printed about him. So now . . now they're on the brink of bankruptcy. Everybody working there, except for Lois, and Jimmy since he's not even getting paid, are like prisoners foraging for the last piece of food. They all know that the Planet could go under at any time, so they're all doing their best to hang onto their jobs as long as possible. Even if it means screwing over their fellow employees. Lois takes Clark out on a story with her. Actually, she's looking for him to be a distraction as she tries to sneak into a press conference that Lex is holding. The Planet has been banned from these, after all. So in usual Lois and Clark fashion, Lois makes it up to the roof for the unveiling of Lex's new technology, but she's soon found out as she's a regular party crasher here. In her haste to escape she distracts the Metallo Robot that Lex was putting through it's paces . . it drops the helicopter that it was holding up, and Lois falls over the edge of the roof. This scene seemed like it was right out one of those 70's Superman books. Back then it seemed like this kind of stuff happened every issue. Anyways, Clark has to change into his pajamas to rescue Lois and catch the helicopter. Of course when they all land there's a million questions. He just 'outed' himself, and then touched down right in the middle of a major press conference. Clark quickly takes off. He's not looking for adulation or notoriety . . he just wants to help where he can. But now he's let the cat out of the bag. And as with some advice from he father before he took off on his walk-about, 'Once you let it out, you can't put it back in.' The issue ends with Clark having second doubts about what he's done. He didn't really want the attention. This wasn't an overly exciting issue, but . . it was interesting. It was neat to see us introduced to what will become Clark's huge supporting cast. Geoff does a great job of giving them each their own distinct personalities. And he really captured the 70's or 80's feel for this book. You know . . back when things were more 'innocent'. But it does feel like it's set in modern times. I don't really expect to learn much 'new' from this story, but . . with Geoff and Gary at the helm, I also can't pass it up. Gary's 2 covers were fantastic. This is one of those books that it's just fun to read.

Green Lantern #48 - DC

I should've read this story before reading Blackest Night #5, but . . that's ok. We've all read flashback stories before. That's what this was kind of like. In Blackest Night #5 we see the results of the team that is gathered here. Here . . here we see what brought them all together. And, even if I had looked at this first, the blurb at the top of page one says that these events take place before issue #6. So I really wouldn't have thought anything of it. But that's neither here nor there. Like I said, this issue shows Hal Jordan and company gathering up the last 2 vestiges of their spectral assault by going to Okaara where Larfleeze and Atrocitus seem to be fighting to the death. We get a little more background on Larfleeze, but the most information comes from Atrocitus' recalling of the decimation of his planet, Ryut in space sector 666. They've returned here because this is where the Black Power Battery was brought to fruition. However, by the time they arrive they find out that it's been moved. You know where if you read Blackest Night #5. Anyways, while here, Atrocitus recalls the attack by the Guardians and the Manhunters. He doesn't know that by that time the Manhunters were pretty much acting of their own volition, but . . I don't think explaining it to him would've helped much. He feels so much remorse and grief that we see the angry, self-loathing Atrocitus brought to his knees. It's kind of a touching moment. Disturbing. But touching. Anyways, we also see the agreement that's struck between Larfleeze and Sayd for his help. 'If you assist us, Larfleeze, I will pledge my everlasting servitude to you. The Guardians have blood on their hands, Ganthet. The massacre of this space sector is simply the first in a long list of failings. Sacrifices must be made by us.' Apparently this little group is calling themselves the New Guardians. I think I actually preferred reading this book first because then I didn't try to second guess what was going to happen next the whole time. I tend to do that. So since I already read Blackest Night #5, this issue just kind of served as an informative issue for me. Anyways, Geoff Johns scripted a great story here . . yet again. It'll be interesting to see the changes in all of these Corps, and there relationships to one another after all of this is over. Speculating again . . since the Guardians won't be trusted enough to lead the Corps because of their deceptions, I can see a council with a representative from each Corps sitting on it. The Guardians may be the 'managers', but I can see this council be the governing authority. Although, I haven't figured out how they'll handle the Orange Corps since Larfleeze is really it's only member. Or, maybe the Guardians will be split up . . one to each Corps. Obviously they won't be in charge, but maybe they'll somehow be involved in the decision process. I don't know. I'm just guessing. But we'll find out in a couple of months.

Blackest Night #5 - DC

I've said this over and over again, but still . . wow! What a powerful book. First of all the Lanterns of all the various spectrums have finally gotten thier delegation together. . Hal/Green, Sinestro/Yellow, Saint Walker/Blue, Atrocitus/Red, Star Sapphire/Purple, Indigo 1/Indigo and Larfleeze/ Orange. Secondly, it appears that all of the action will be taking place in Central City . . with millions of dead rising from the graves. We also know that Dove, with her white light, is somehow intimately connected to all of this. But . . she hasn't arrived yet. So when the various Lanterns decide to make their assault upon the Black Power Battery . . she's not there to help. I think that may be a problem. And, despite all the action in this book . . and there's quite a lot, the thing I like the most is all of the information that we're given. I'm not going to attempt to give it to you in any specific order, but . . this is what we've learned this issue . . Larfleeze's hunger is a direct result of the power he receives from the Orange light. However, Saint Walker can reduce that hunger when he's in his proximity. Nekron claims that everyone is connected to the Black Light because eventually everyone dies. And therein lies Nekron's power. Somehow the Flash . . all of them, are a determining factor in all of this also. We don't know any specifics yet, but it has to do with Barry dying and then coming back, and I think the Speed-Force is involved also. Jean grabs up Ray and Mera and shrinks them down into the ring attached to Damage's hand. Apparently that's a story for another time. The Lanterns also learn that they've been duped by the Guardians. Well . . they don't actually know that yet, but they're finding out. When they try to destroy the Black Power Battery, they find out that all the power that they're shoving into it is actually increasing Nekron's power and hold. Even Donna, who is just marginally a Black Lantern because of the bite she received, begins to feel the effects almost immediately. With his increased power, Nekron brings Bruce back from the dead and somehow his emotional connection with all of these heroes allows him to send out black rings that begin to kill them and then make them 'RISE!'. As soon as he does so . . Nekron dismisses him. 'You have served your purpose, "Bruce Wayne". Back to rest. Connection severed.' The issue ends with most of the League being turned into Black Lanterns, and 2 more rings heading specifically towards Hal and Barry. I also thought that Nekron's dialogue was interesting. 'Your death was the first, Barry Allen of Earth. And your rebirth the last. So says Nekron.' Whatever that means. And later on he tells them . . 'Many of you died, but you came back. And though some have questioned why they escaped death, you all failed to realize you did not escape death. You are still connected to it. To me. I put myself between you and everlasting death. I allowed your numerous resurrections. You will help me expose the Guardians' greatest secret and return this universe to a place of quiet, dark order.' So basically we've learned that everyone who died and came back . . Superman, Connor, Buddy Baker, Tora, Diana, Ollie, Bart, etc, etc . . they've all been connected to Nekron this whole time. He could've taken them anytime he wanted. But now . . now that all the Guardians and Lanterns and heroes have gathered . . now he's decided to make his move. Now we're going to find out what Nekron's ultimate plan is. But not this issue. This issue ends with everyone being converted and it looking like all is lost. I thought this was a fantastic issue . . as always. First of all I loved Ivan Reis' and Rodolfo Migliari's covers. They were simply fantastic. Also Ivan does an incredible job with the interiors of this book. Everything looks and flows incredibly, and I can't believe the sheer number of characters that he illustrates throughout these pages. It's overwhelming. The guy is definitely going to need a vacation when this is all over. And finally, the brains behind the whole thing . . Geoff Johns is a genius. I can't believe the magnitude of the story that he's created here. He's quite literally changing the foundation of the entire DC Universe. The story he's created here is incredible, and . . I don't even think that we've gotten all the pertinent information yet. I still think the Anti-Monitor is somehow connected to all of this even though I don't have a single clue to support that. I just think we haven't seen that part of the story yet. Anyways, we still have a couple of months to go, so . . a lot can happen. And as we've learned from Geoff thus far . . a lot probably will happen that we don't even suspect . . yet! I know this is cliche, but . . I think the best is yet to come.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Smallville - Pandora - Season 9 Episode 9 - CW

This episode we find out what exactly it was that Lois saw in the future. Basically the Legion ring had taken her one year into the future. And it was pretty grim. Zod had built his solar tower. It absorbed solar radiation and then somehow turned it back on the sun, or the atmosphere, to turn the sun red. Apparently the red sun inhibitor that Jor-El put into the orb blocks the Kandorian's powers under Earth's yellow sun, but they gain they're powers under the red. And of course Clark is now powerless. We also find out that Chloe is leading the rebel alliance, and Ollie is her right-hand man. We find this out when they attack Lex's mansion. That appears to be Zod's base of operation. And when he captures Lois and Clark, that's where he takes them. We also find out that Tess is in league with Zod. But during the rebel's assault Chloe shoots and kills her. Ollie's a little distraught, since they once had a relationship, but Chloe shrugs it off as, 'I had the shot.' Anyways, all of this is expressed to Tess as she hooks an unconscious Lois to some sort of machine that reads her brain. Tess also hooks up, syncing her brain with Lois' so she can see exactly what Lois sees. The vision of her dying jolts her out of the process. She's ready to wipe Lois' brain when, finally, Clark shows up. My only question is, if Tess knows how all of this is going to turn out, why is she still so dead-set on helping Zod? Anyways, Clark knocks Tess out, but because of all the Kryptonite in the room he's also quickly fallen. Somehow he gets entangled in the machine and then he syncs in with Lois' visions. Chloe shows up to save him, but he's gotten enough information to try to make the right decisions. Apparently everything that happened was because of the way that Clark went about things . . the decisions he made. He went at Zod as an enemy which just strengthened his resolve and accelerated his time-line. So this time . . this time Clark is going to find Zod and approach with a hand of friendship. It'll be interesting to see how that works out for him. And of course because of the process all of Lois' future visions got erased. If not, she's have remembered the intimate relationship that she and Clark shared in the future. Which Clark has now seen. At the end of the episode there's a scene where Clark tries to talk to Lois about their kiss. Basically the decision is . . they decide to proceed, but . . they're taking it very, very slowly. I thought it was a good episode. It finally brought some of these dangling plot threads out into the open. The only problem is . . there won't be any new episodes until the new year. That stinks.